Michael J. Fitzgerald has been a journalist for 40 years, working as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and web publications. In 2014 he published the novel, "The Fracking War." In 2015, he published his second novel, "Fracking Justice." He writes or contributes to five blogs. He and his wife Sylvia Fox are the owners and principal partners in *subject2change Media, a multi-media firm involved in print, video and broadcast. He writes a weekly column, "Write On" for the daily 'Finger Lakes Times' newspaper in Geneva, NY. He was a journalism professor at CSU Sacramento from 1986 to 2011 teaching Newswriting, Column Writing and Magazine Writing.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (8:30 a.m.) - Something about the passing of Hunter S. Thompson has addled by brain, coming so close on the heels of the death of my mother-in-law, and a friend and colleague last fall. Another acquaintance was hit - and killed - by truck while she was crossing a San Francisco street walking a neighbor's dog. (What are the odds on that one?)
Death to the left, death to right, death right in front of us.
But when I was rifling through my papers during the last two days, wondering what screed I might write about HST as a tribute of sorts (to sell, amigos, to sell!), I found tons of Humphrey Bogart photos and things, things I had saved for years.
A good friend from my Petaluma newspaper days took me to my first showing of 'Casablanca,' in about 1974. After that, we bought Casablanca books, copies of the film and began trading lines in the newspaper office to the chagrin of the other staff members.
"I was willing to shoot Captain Reynaud and I'm willing to shoot you."
"The Germans know where to find me. I left a note in my apartment."
"The troubles of three people don't amount to hill of beans in this crazy world."
And my favorite, possibly the most romantic line ever spoken in a film:
"We'll always have Paris."
All the Bogart thoughts pulled me out of my funk, even though Bogart himself died young (my age, Jaysus!). But like HST, he lived large, pushing the envelope in his own way, loved sailing and made many memorable films.
The photo with today's blog, from The Maltese Falcon, is one of those classic screen shots.
And the lines from that movie run through my head to:
"When a man's partner gets killed, he does something about it."
And, of course, the tagline at the end of the movie that's turned into a question in Trivial Pursuit:
The question: What is the last line of dialog in The Maltese Falcon?
Most people answer, "The stuff that dreams are made of."
It's a good answer, and should be the last line. It's certainly the one that people remember. But the real last line belongs to Ward Bond (who went on to play the wagonmaster in the TV series, Wagon Train). After Bogart says "The stuff that dreams are made of" Ward Bond says, "Huh?
Take that thought with you if you play the classic version of Trivial Pursuit.
But keep looking for your own Maltese Falcon or Casablanca.
That's where the writing is headed in the coming weeks: about the stuff that dreams are made of.